Two weeks out from Unstoppable, Defiant’s back with more as we continued on the path to Manchester with a throwback to 1993 (of all years)!

We open with a replay from last week when the tornado handicap match was won by Mark Haskins by DQ, as the Anti-Fun Police cost themselves the match… General Ameen and El Phantasmo doing pantomime… and Omari beating Nathan Cruz. Oh, and they left in the Ilja Dragunov tease that’ll never amount to anything. Still, at least we got to see Bad Bones quivering again! James R. Kennedy and Dave Bradshaw are on commentary from Newcastle, and we start with police sirens…

No Fun Dunne vs. Visage
Stevie Aaron’s not doing his announcing from the ring for this one, which is a bit odd.

There’s also something unsettling when the referee joins the heels in being uneasy with Visage. Don’t judge, and all that… Dunne rips off Visage’s wig from the off, but gets thrown down as Visage hits a cartwheel elbow drop on Dunne… then takes him into the corner for some rather un-fun throws into his crotch. Dunne pulls Visage out of the corner and puts the boots to him as the rough housing came to the fore. A knee drop’s good for a two-count for Dunne, as he then threw Visage into the corner before a springboard lungblower got the win. Just a squash, then, which isn’t going to do much to help Visage, whose character already feels like an uphill battle when it’s just thrown out without much of an explanation.

There’s a good promo piece here for the Starr/Rampage title match, recapping what Starr had to go through to get into contention, which bleeds into a rundown of the card. Nothing new added here…

BT Gunn vs. Rampage
Ooh, blatant overdubbing that removes James Kennedy for a spell (I’m guessing it’s related to the storyline they had to drop with Dragunov)! Gunn’s introduction sees him go through the crowd and back to the entrance so he can come down again.

Rampage has new gear, including a Nathan Cruz-like shoulder pad and a not-Cruz-like furry midriff. Furrier than that it normally is. They do yay/yay cheers for Gunn and Primate as they babyface it up, before a sucker punch from Gunn seemed to snap us out of our dubbed slumber. They trade forearms and elbows to the head as Primate’s jaw’s tested, before they catch each other’s kicks to the gut. Second time wasn’t the charm as they both went down after low blows, which Primate declared was Gunn kicking him “in the willy”. Duelling clotheslines follow, then a barrage of Gunn superkicks as Primate eventually responded with a spear. This feels like they’re killing time ahead of something, and when Gunn spills to the outside after pulling himself up, he’s eventually joined outside by Primate as they brawl on the floor. The crowd we see struggle to show any interest, except for when Gunn chops the ring post… and that’s not helped by a high five.

Gunn poked him in the eye, but back in the ring Primate delivers a flatliner into the turnbuckles before they trade German suplexes. Primate no-sells his and comes back with a spinebuster for a near-fall, before he’s forced to block a suplex attempt as he spears Gunn out of nowhere for the win. Well, this felt like a popcorn match that was there to act as a backdrop for Gabriel Kidd and Rory Coyle to run in… except that never came and we just had the match. *¾

Post-match Primate celebrates… and here’s your run in. Guys, you missed the match! Kidd and Coyle surround the ring, before Joe Hendry runs out to make the save as we get the brawl anyway. Hendry and Primate deal with their foes easily as they brawled to the back. On paper, this reads much better than executed…

Bea Priestley’s backstage, complaining that Lana Austin is why she’s not the Defiant women’s champion. She promises to kick the smile off of Lana’s face at Unstoppable.

Next, the Billington boys are with Marty Jones, who cuts a hell of a promo for them as I struggle to get over how much Thomas looks like the Dynamite Kid. He announces that they’ve got a match against “Mickey Mouse and Minnie”, which is the South Coast Connection next week. I kinda dig that, even if they just buried Ospreay’s boys…

Man Like Dereiss vs. Nathan Cruz
Poor, poor Dereiss. After Cruz was embarrassed by Omari last week (at least, results wise), Dereiss is perhaps in in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cruz is aggressive from the off, taking Dereiss into the corner for some stomps before whipping him hard from corner-to-corner. A push-away from the corner keeps Dereiss down, as he’s then draped across the top rope for a suspended lungblower – called Suspended Disbelief… and Cruz’s “B-move” gets the win in an emphatic squash. Thank’s for coming, Dereiss!

Post-match, Cruz get a chair, but instead he sits on it as he declared that everyone’s “hashtag heroes” get buried by a wrestler’s wrestler. Cruz challenges Omari for Unstoppable, and threatens to break Dereiss’ neck if it’s not accepted. Of course, Omari comes out with a mic (to silence, sadly) as he clearly didn’t hear what Cruz wanted. Nathan responds as he should do, reiterating the challenge, which Omari accepted… but Cruz still Pillman-ized Dereiss’ neck.

Backstage, General Ameen’s quizzing the Anti-Fun Police (Drake and Dunne) over El Phantasmo’s glasses. Drake’s got a laptop that has the evidence… but of course they want something back. We’re getting Dunne vs. Havoc at Unstoppable for the Hardcore title in an anti-Hardcore match, which means if Havoc uses a weapon, he’s disqualified and loses the title. Ameen sees the footage, and storms off in disbelief.

Martin Kirby’s out next to address the crowd, here to brag about beating “Üter” for the Internet title. He’s all about dodgy cheapshots, calling a camera operator “Becky Lynch” because she’s got dyed hair. Kirby says he’s only defending the Internet title on PPV, which led to him taking more shots at El Phantasmo, which he reckons sounds like a straight-to-DVD Disney film. That led to the offer of a non-title warm-up match… yay, another squash? Out come Conor Renshaw, Leon Mercer, Benji and Mickey Mann, and yeah, Benji’s over like hell here. He sticks out from the pack, which helps massively. Kirby interviews the lineup, who get fake names: Lou Sir, Joe Burr, “Random Bairn” and Jay Bronie. In the end, Kirby does a Cartman… but “screw you guys, I’m going home” means nothing because he’s stopped by Sy-Back.

Simon Miller gets a loud reaction, as he tells the crowd what we saw in prior backstage segments that got him the Sid Scala role in Defiant. We get a second referendum on who Kirby should face. Leon Mercer gets virtual crickets… Mickey Dragon gets something… Conor Renshaw gets BOOS (because Sunderland), and of course Benji lifts the roof.

Martin Kirby vs. Benji
Renshaw stares at Benji, which distracted him before the bell as Kirby attacked him from behind. It’s another live commentary squash from Kirby, who plants Benji with a running backbreaker, before a cross-legged abdominal stretch left Benji in trouble. Kirby lets go to berate the crowd, and Benji fights back from there, clubbing Kirby into the ropes before tossing the microphone to Benji ahead of an enziguiri. A Sable Bomb’s called for, but Kirby instead calls out the “Destruction Death Move”… only for Kirby to perhaps overplay the doom that he was sending Benji’s way, as he’s instead caught with a small package as Benji does the 1-2-3 Kid and win!

I said from the off, if Defiant handle this right, they’ve got a cult hero in Benji… and it’s so far, so good with him!

Backstage, Simon Miller’s gloating… as in come Rory Coyle and Gabriel Kidd. Kidd’s bragging about his history with Miller… and that led to Coyle grabbing him from behind with the Doink prosthetic arm. Kidd threatens Miller into giving him a title match, complete with dramatic camera zooms as we go off the air with the reveal of that match being next week. Hey, I like this pairing of Kidd and Coyle – one being the workhorse and the other being the unhinged muscle. It’ll need time to settle, but it’s promising.

Also next week: Kanji defends the Women’s title vs. Lana Austin, and the South Coast Connection take on the Dynamic Duo of the Billingtons.

On the week that episodes of WWF Superstars from 1992 dropped on the WWE Network, this week’s Defiant felt very much like it was from the early 90s. Very squash heavy, with some character and story development. Not one to watch if you’re into work-rate, but this was a very easy watch that could be pivotal in the weeks to come. Especially if you’re called Benji…